Editor’s note: We invited Lawrence alumni who have gone into library work to share with us what they do and how they got there. Here’s another in a series.
I got hooked on libraries while working in technical (tech) services at the Mudd Library freshman year at LU and haven’t looked back since. Besides labeling new print books and DVDs, I corrected errors in the online catalog to ensure people could find what they looked for and also shelved rare and special books in the Lincoln Reading Room and Milwaukee-Downer Room. I enjoyed organizing the library but truly loved making sure people could find what they needed with everything being where it should be. In my current job, part of it includes correcting errors and fixing links for eResources which are essential since eBooks and eJournals cannot be stumbled upon like a physical book that is misshelved.
As I neared graduation, I researched graduate programs in library science and ended up at the University of Michigan, a School of Information that offers lots of technology courses in the same degree. Learning coding, database management, heuristic evaluation, etc., in addition to library science has proven to be useful in my career. My first professional job was at ProQuest, cataloging eBooks for Safari Books Online which is mostly computer science and technology related. Cataloging describes the contents of an item and creates a record in an online catalog so that people can find the information and items. LU prepared me as an analytical thinker, furthered my intellectual curiosity, and inspired me to be my best self at all times. All of these traits serve me well as a technology-savvy, detail-oriented librarian.
For current students thinking about a career in libraries, my first piece of advice is to work in one. This sounds basic but it’s the best way to tell not only if you want to work in libraries but to determine what you want to do, and sometimes what you don’t want to do which is also important. Experience working in libraries will make you a stronger candidate for library jobs. Also, the best part about libraries today is the variety of jobs and areas that are available. I currently work at OhioLINK, which is a consortium of 121 Ohio academic libraries and the State Library of Ohio that share materials and purchase eContent together which allows students and faculty to have access to many more resources. In addition to cataloging, I manage an electronic theses and dissertations submission website for 30 of our member libraries. One of my librarian friends works as a curator of children’s literature. Another is a studio librarian, helping students create research and projects with media and software. There are opportunities in government facilities, corporations, museums, and so much more. There truly is something for everyone, you just have to look.
By Emily Alinder Flynn, Class of 2009